ListeningWe’ve discussed how we listen, why we listen, and, on a continual basis, what we listen to.  But one aspect we have yet to formally address is where we choose to obtain our romance audiobooks.  Do you find most of your audiobooks through your library system?  Do you regularly rent audiobooks?  Do you buy your audiobooks in CD format through your local bookseller or an online outlet?  Or do you buy and download your selections from some online source and listen to those books on a MP3 player?


Often in discussions, one of our listeners will mention that their “go to” source for audiobooks is their local library.  If a particular library does not have a specific title, it can often borrow from affiliated libraries thereby increasing your selection.

I’ll admit that my experience with borrowing audiobooks from my library system is limited although it was a resource I used back in my days of cassette tape listening.  While their selection of romance titles was limited, I still found an occasional audiobook to supplement my need for more.  And often a library is the only reasonable place to access those “too hard to find” or “too expensive to buy” books such as the unabridged versions of Diana Gabaldon’s fifth and sixth entries in the Outlander series, The Fiery Cross and A Breath of Snow and Ashes.

Most libraries now feature downloadable audiobooks as well.  However, as my experience is limited in this area, let me turn to our listeners who regularly utilize their library audiobook resources for words of advice.  These comments come from previous discussions here at Speaking of Audiobooks.  Last October, Carol Irvin offered these words of encouragement:

“You do not necessarily need to live in a big area to get a huge selection of audiobooks. The greater access concept is alive and well in libraries. Thus, in my region the Cleveland Public Library has put together a consortium of libraries in northern Ohio, including its own collection. I can order and pick up anything the consortium has at three tiny libraries in the small towns surrounding me. This was not advertised. I had to do a little digging to discover it. But it is fabulous. I have yet to look for an audiobook that the consortium does not have.”

While discussing those difficult-to-find Diana Gabaldon books last September, Cathy informed us that we may even have the power to influence our library’s choice of audiobooks:

“…go talk to your local librarian and see if they will purchase/interloan a copy of The Fiery Cross for you! It doesn’t hurt to let them know 1) they own the rest of the series 2) a new title is coming out that’s sure to hit the bestseller lists, and 3) that the reviews of the series on audio are excellent.”

In August, Katyco shared that she gets about half of her audiobooks on CD from the library.  The other half are MP3 downloads from her library mixed in with purchases from Audible.

So now we come to the part that always chips away at my determination to borrow, rather than buy, some of my audio selections and that is the compatibility issue when downloading library audiobooks to your particular listening device.  As I attempted to borrow last year through downloading, the Tulsa Library System’s site informed me that it “offers OverDrive WMA Audiobook titles and OverDrive MP3 Audiobook titles.”   And… “OverDrive WMA Audiobooks can be transferred to Apple devices (where permitted by the publisher) using OverDrive Media Console v3.2 (or newer) for Windows.”

Huh?  And what is that bit about permission from publishers?

I realize that this only sounds complicated and is actually much simpler once one understands the process.  So, those of you who listen to audiobooks borrowed from your library system, can you offer some specifics?  Hopefully with your advice, many of our listeners will begin utilizing downloads from their library system as well.


Renting audiobooks is an alternative unknown to many listeners.  I’ve not taken advantage of these programs although I’ve been tempted.  One source in particular, Recorded Books, provides rentals of a number of hard-to-find romance audiobooks.  But simply stated – the fees are significant.  The cost of renting the aforementioned hard-to-find unabridged version of Diana Gabaldon’s The Fiery Cross is $37.50 in either CD or cassette tape.  Another rarely seen romance, Suddenly You by Lisa Kleypas, rents for $18.50 on CD and $17.50 on cassette tape.  You’ll also have a hard time locating Julie Garwood’s The Secret but Recorded Books rents it for $20.50 in CD and $18.50 in cassette tape format.  If you haven’t visited Recorded Books, I suggest you take a look.  You’ll find many more hard-to-find romance audiobooks for rent and purchase.  However, I must warn you that their purchase prices usually do not come close to the thrifty category.

The Fiery CrossBuying

When the subject of buying audiobooks comes up these days, I immediately think of downloading books to my MP3 player.  But it wasn’t all that many years ago that I spent hours each week watching the auctions on eBay and buying romance audiobooks in cassette tape or CD format.  I was just beginning to build my audio library and buying “used” seemed to be the most affordable option.  In the past, I’ve sporadically purchased new romance CDs through online outlets such as Amazon or Barnes & Noble.  Local bookstores have failed me miserably in this area as they don’t seem to stock romance titles – or at least those to my taste.

Many of our listeners rely on cassette tapes or, more often, CDs for their listening.  Buying used or new audiobooks in CD format is big business online and there are many reputable outlets for such.

Discovering downloads of romance audiobooks, however, changed my audiobook world.  No longer do I need to spend time looking for the best deals because I’m confident that, the outlet I use for purchasing downloads, will usually have the best price.  In addition, Audible has the largest selection of romance audiobooks and is constantly offering new recordings of older romance titles.

Online, you will find a good number of retail outlets for purchasing romance audiobook downloads.  When making your choice you may want to consider the size of their romance section since the sites with the best prices usually require some sort of monthly membership plan.  Here are four of the larger sites for downloadable romance audiobooks with the approximate size of their library:

Barnes & Noble – 530 romance titles

Audio Book Store – 550 romance titles

Books on Board – 950 romance titles

Audible – 1,875 romance titles

During our Speaking of Audiobooks discussions, our listeners mention Audible as their source for romance audiobook downloads far more than any other source.  However, in a comment made last June, Niecie had this to offer on Books on Board:

“I get my audiobooks from Books on Board. They have a pretty large selection in the romance genre, although you do find many of the titles in the general fiction section. The audiobooks are WMA and if they are available in MP3, that option is usually there.”

Among our many listeners who choose Audible, Katyco offers these words:

“You should give Audible a try. All you need is a computer, an MP3 player, and a credit card. They have a great selection and the member prices are very reasonable. When you buy and download a book, it stays in your audio library.”

Marissa B sums up my thoughts on Audible:

“If you are an audiobook enthusiast (or even and audiobook enthusiast wannabe), you can’t go wrong with Not only do they have a large library of books to choose from, they are by far the most affordable source of audiobooks on the web.”

Living Outside of the U.S. Can Make Things Tricky

Through our discussions here at Speaking of Audiobooks, I have learned that there are some geographical challenges (outside of the United States) with the purchase of audiobook downloads.  Apparently the lack of a U.S. credit card with a U.S. address is the usual culprit since there are geographical restrictions placed by publishers.

Knowing that Kaetrin, living in Australia, has worked through this sometimes discouraging situation, I asked her to share with us just how and where she purchases her audiobook downloads:

I don’t know about renting.  I’m not sure that is an option for me.  If it’s U.S., I think I’d struggle due to geographical restrictions.  Oh, if I could only get a US credit card!!

As for buying, I get my audiobooks from either Audible or Books on Board.  For my Audible account, they know I live in Australia and my credit card apparently screams this as well – I’m restricted in the titles they offer due to geographical restrictions.  A lot of the books you discuss in the blog (editor’s note: books available in the U.S. through Audible) aren’t available to me from Audible.  However, I can occasionally obtain some of those titles through Books on Board gift certificates.  My monthly Audible credit costs me about $17 ($14.95 U.S.) depending on the exchange rate.  I’ve looked a few times for audiobooks via iTunes but they are hideously expensive ($40-50 AUD and I’m not paying that for anything).  I draw the line at about $20. $25 if I really want the book.”

Reading this, I feel most fortunate that I have such a large selection of romance audiobooks with so few restrictions.  Maybe I need to quit bellyaching about the difficulty in downloading audiobooks from my local library and just do it.  Note to self: Count your audiobook blessings.

Selecting Your Audiobook Device

Our Speaking of Audiobooks column, How We Listen, dated October 9th, 2009, concentrated on the various types of listening devices.  During the discussion, listeners offered advice on choosing a device that fits your needs.  Please take a look if you’re thinking about making a change in your method of listening.  I believe you’ll find answers to many of your questions.

Devil in WinterSome Lisa Kleypas News

For Kleypas fans, there’s a lot to look forward to in upcoming releases of her older titles.  Here are a few I discovered recently and I have a feeling there’s more to come:

Secrets of a Summer Night August 2010

It Happened One Autumn August 2010

Scandal in Spring September 2010

Devil in Winter September 2010

Then Came You December 2010

Dreaming of You December 2010

Somewhere I’ll Find You February 2011

Because You’re Mine February 2011

Time for Your Thoughts

Do you buy, rent, or borrow your audiobooks?

Where do you find your audiobooks?

Is there a particular source you highly recommend to other listeners for buying audiobooks?

If you purchase your audiobooks, do you purchase CDs/Tapes or downloads?

If you rent audiobooks, what is your source?

Can you provide advice on downloading audiobooks from sources such as your public library?

And as always, do you have any recent audiobook success of failure to share with us?

Ending Notes

For those new to our Speaking of Audiobooks column, please check out our audio archives as well as AAR’s main site for monthly lists of upcoming audiobook releases.

I’ll be back again later this month when we discuss June’s audiobook new releases.

– Lea Hensley

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